Michael Heseltine and his wife Anne purchased Thenford house in 1976, and over the next twenty five years they set about restoring over 40 acres of woodland. In order to help with the replanting programme the Heseltines sought advice from some of the leading horticultural leaders of the time, including Lanning Roper, Sir Harold Hillier, Roy Lancaster and Keith Rushforth.
The eighteenth century woodland had been grown for its commercial value. The Heseltines widened the choice of trees and shrubs and thus laid the foundations of the present collection. It was around the turn of the century and free of the responsibilities of the government that the Heseltines decided to create a range of ornamental features and seriously enhance the quality of the collection.
The arboretum, now spread out over seventy acres, features a collection of more than three thousand different trees and shrubs, together with extensive herbaceous borders, water gardens, an alpine trough garden, a sculpture garden, a rose garden and a rill as well as a collection of over 600 different types of snowdrops. The medieval fish ponds, their interconnecting canal and the existing lake have been restored and two new ones have been added. An eighteenth century avenue of mature yews has been cleared of self seeded shrubs and saplings, and returned to its former grandeur.
Awarded National Collection Snowdrops in 2023
Opening times: Friday 2nd February, Saturday 10th February Snowdrop Spectacular, Saturday 17th February, Wednesday 21st February. Friday 19th April, Saturday 27th April. Wednesday 8th May, Tuesday 14th May, Friday 24th May. Thursday 6th June, Saturday 15th June, Friday 21st June. Wednesday 3rd July, Friday 12th July. Friday 2nd August, Saturday 3rd August. Friday 6th September. Saturday 12th October, Friday 28th October.
Admissions: £16 per person please see the website on how to apply for tickets.
Group Tours: We accept groups of most sizes but coach parking is limited.
Facilities: Wall Garden, Sculpture garden and Arboretum, tea is also available.
Events: Please see the website for more information on up coming events.
Disables access: Thenford Arboretum has step-free access and priority parking available in close proximity. Assistance dogs welcome. Please be advised there is rough terrain in some parts and the perimeter of the gardens is extensive (70 acres)
Toilets: Yes and are available at various points including disabled toilets at the tea barn.
Coach/car parking: Coach parking is limited so please enquire when booking.
Car parking is free of charge.
Length of visit: We would recommend 2 hours .
Location: 5 miles from Banbury, Oxfordshire, please see the website for directions.
Updated: February 2024